Treadmill training to try

February 8, 2012

I used to turn my nose up at the treadmill, preferring to head off on road or trail to pound out mile after mile of same-pace stuff, with the odd track session or set of hill reps thrown in. Sport-specific, innit: I used to take part in running races and triathlons, and I needed to train that way.

These days, I do very little cardio, and the cardio I do needs to be short and sharp, stripping away body fat but preserving precious muscle (yep, it’s a good trick if you can do it). These days, I’m on first name terms with the treadmill (Chris), cross-trainer (Lesley) and rowing machine (Simon).

It dawned on me this morning, as I slid home from the gym on icy pavements (I’m still doing cardio during deload week), that even my triathlete and running pals might be getting familiar with a treadmill in this weather. And, why not. Sure, treadmill running isn’t as picturesque as a few glorious miles across hill and dale (unless the person on the treddie in front of yours possesses a particularly pleasing derriere…) but it does the job. And, actually, for the endurance folk amongst you, a short sharp treadmill session could deliver measurable benefits which are quite different to your longer, slower outdoor runs. So this post is for you, too!

I don’t (currently) do anything longer than 30 minutes of cardio in one go, and I prefer to do 20 minutes of “work” with a warm up and down. But the work does need to be work! Got 30 minutes? Then here are three treadmill sessions to try today (not all in one day, obvs). They’re my current “favourites”:

11/11/11
I’ve written about this before. This was given to me by a PT called Ben Lauder-Dykes. It’s a true delight. Really, just try it. And if you think it’s too easy, well that’s great, because you can also do 12/12/12 or whatever you like. You’re only limited by the % to which your treadmill will incline.

How to do it:
– get on the treadmill, warm up (walk/jog) for 4 mins
– set the treadmill to 11kph, 11% incline
– start running and run for 15 seconds
– jump to the side of the treadmill (so you’re straddling the belt) and rest for 15 seconds
– keep doing this 15s on/15s off for 11 minutes (if it all gets a bit much, just remember you’re looking for “15:00” on the display)
– hit that speed button and decrease it slowly for 5 minutes til you’re walking to cool down
There. 20 minutes out of your day=boosted metabolism, fat burning, speed work, incline training, glutey-bootay greatness

Hill intervals
I did this today. How to do it:
– walk/jog for 5 minutes on an incline of 0.5% (only because completely flat feels weird)
– run at a sustainable pace (read the full session to guess at what this might be for you) for 2 minutes
– increase incline to 2% for 2 minutes
– down to 0.5% for 2 minutes
– increase incline to 4% for 2 minutes
– down to 0.5% for 2 minutes
– increase incline to 6% for 2 minutes
– down to 0.5% for 2 minutes
– increase incline to 8% for 2 minutes
– down to 0.5% for 2 minutes
– increase incline to 10% for 2 minutes
– hit that decline button, bring the incline down, and start to bring the speed down too so you jog/walk for a 5 minute cool down
There. 30 minutes of deceptive, increasingly heart-pounding work which will leave your metabolism ramped up for hours and do you much more good than just running at the same pace and the same incline for 30 minutes.

Flat intervals
How to do it:
– 5 mins warm up until you’re running at a sustainable pace (somewhere between 5 mile and 10K race pace I’d say)
– alternate 1 minute at this pace with 1 minute recovery (jog not walk) pace. Try not to bring the speed down too much, simply because then part of your next minute’s effort will be spent getting the treadmill back up to speed
– do 20 minutes of 1 min on/1 min off
– decrease the speed for a 5 minute jog/walk cool down

Do one session per week (or, if you dare, do all of these in one week) and tell me how you feel and how it’s affected your body recomposition and/or fitness goals. Don’t underestimate them, though. I’m always hugely hungry and very tired for a day or so after doing one of these sessions; a sure sign that they work the body hard.

Treadmill training to try is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


20 days to go – update

August 29, 2011

Just 20 days to go until the BNBF British Final. Time has flown!

In yesterday’s post, I promised an update. So, here we go:


TRAINING
No changes to my training; I’m still pushing through for as long as I’ve got the energy. My split is legs twice a week (two different sessions), back, shoulders and chest. Some of those sessions are really quite short (shoulders in particular) so, whilst I don’t get a lot of rest days, some days are less demanding than others. I’m not doing any steady-state cardio (other than walking the dog) but what I am still doing is intervals and plyometrics, usually as a second session on some (not all!) days.

DIET
My carbs are coming down slowly, whilst my protein is staying steady and my fat is, if anything, higher than it has been. Perhaps the easiest way to illustrate what kind of things I eat is to give you a “day in the life of…” I’ve never done this before! Here’s what I ate yesterday:

1) bison and veg all cooked up together using coconut oil (yes, for breakfast. So delicious!)
2) after weight training: smoothie of sweet potato (cooked then frozen), Kara coconut milk, pea protein (typically I’d use vanilla whey but I’ve now taken sweetened protein powders out of my diet)
3) chicken breast and green beans, sauteed together with seasoning and lemon rind (my latest obsession!)
4) grilled asparagus topped with egg whites (done like a poached egg – I would have had a whole poached egg if I had the fats to spare). Homemade latte using Kara coconut milk.
5) after interval training: homemade ragu sauce using Athleat‘s grass-fed beef mince (so amazing, incredibly different to any other beef mince I’ve ever had), done in the slow cooker with tomatoes and onions, over shirataki (sp?) noodles
6) egg white crepe with cinnamon, cooked in coconut oil (I’d normally add some casein powder to this, or have something like casein “icecream”, but the casein’s out at the moment due to sweeteners).

During the day I drink lots of water, a big jug of homemade juice which I make every morning (one of my secret weapons), green tea and one or two (quality) cups of coffee.

POSING
I’m posing til I pop! Once or twice a day. I always go through all the poses at least twice after every training session, and sometimes I’ll just do a posing session at home to the never-ending delight of my patient husband.

ROUTINE
I’m using the same music as I did for the BNBF qualifier but I’ve added a few new bits to it. I hope they like it!

BIKINI
Is being designed and on its way! I can’t wait to see it! 😀

PROGRESS PICS
These are a bit bright and I’m washed out – we were in an empty squash court practicing my routine – but my abs are coming in (honest!) I’m so excited about this, guys! 😀

And ones taken by me yesterday (how DO youngsters ‘these days’ take iPhone photos of themselves? I simply can’t work out how to do it…. Cousins! Give me a tutorial!)

So, 20 days to go. This time in three weeks I’ll be on my way home from Glasgow. Crazy!

I hope you’re enjoying the Bank Holiday weekend. Have you trained, raced, marshalled an event?

20 days to go – update is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Leg training 28 days out

August 21, 2011

It’s now exactly 28 days until the BNBF British Final where I’ll be competing in the Miss Physique (bodybuilding) category alongside six other women.

This morning, I met up again with Ben who carried out my biosignature test last week (I blogged about it here). He kindly agreed to train me, since it was leg day and his facility is based at a Gold’s Gym, so there’s plenty of fantastic bits of kit there which I don’t usually have access to.

Last week, he took me through a session incorporating the trap bar, squat rack, hack squat and incline leg press. Ace!

This week, this is what he had in store:

6 sets proper (“ar$e to grass”) squats: 30kgs, 30kgs, 35kgs, 40kgs, 42.5kgs, 45kgs
3 sets of split squats holding 2x8kgs dumbbells
Glute/ham raises superset with hack squats (30kgs, 40kgs, 50kgs)

Then this horrid little finisher Ben had dreamed up:

20 deep body weight squats, as fast as possible
12 squat jumps
Hold the final squat jump at the bottom for 20 seconds

Immediately up and into the first of the 20 squats…

Do that all three times.

It only takes about 3 minutes and sound pretty easy. I can assure you it’s not (not after the leg session anyway!) I was yelling in pain and had to walk around the studio afterwards until the stars in front of my eyes went away.

We then did some ab work and I did a round of posing (I need to be doing this every day from now on if I can – and there’s no reason why I can’t!)

Thanks (I think?!) Ben! Great session!

After all that leg action, here are a couple of progress pics taken after I got home from the session above.


Yesterday was another good day in the world of contest prep. I attended the BNBF’s London “club”, a gathering of BNBF (or aspiring BNBF) athletes and some very kind BNBF Pros/judges/experience competitors. We met at Monster Gym (what a place!) and I made sure I got there with time to train beforehand (I wasn’t about to pass up that opportunity!)

At the club, there’s plenty of time to ask any questions and get hugely useful answers before we’re put through our paces. Then we pose and pose and pose again. Some of you might think posing is easy (it’s a bit of a misnomer really!) I can assure you it’s anything but. We were all running with sweat.

I was with the guys, as Physique posing is more in line with the posing the men do than the posing the Figure (female) competitors do. Some of the guys ended up standing in a pool of their own sweat. Posing is hard work; it’s like another training session. BNBF club is invaluable, a great opportunity to really practice posing seriously and work hard, as well as get some amazing feedback and assistance. Thanks so much to the BNBF Pros and experienced athletes who gave up their Saturday to help us.

I got to see some of my new bodybuilding friends again (hi Sinead, Shaherah, Phem, Annie U!) and meet some new faces. I left feeling inspired, excited and hugely focused. 28 days to go, and I’m ready to attack them all!

Have you had a good weekend? Did you train, race or compete?


(excuse the paleness – no tan and in a very bright garden!)

Leg training 28 days out is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Interval training at Fresh

April 4, 2011

OK so I lied about no more photos of me training for a while. When I wrote that, I forgot that I was due to go and train at Fresh, a gym and athletic conditioning facility newly opened in Shepperton.

Fresh contacted me through Twitter and invited me along to train with S&C coach Mike Lovett, on one of my HIIT days. Sure thing, I said. Put me through my paces. Let’s just say the drive home was…challenging. I kind of wished I was driving an automatic. It’s been a long time since my quads have felt like that!

To back up a bit: Fresh is just a couple of months old. It’s a big facility and combines traditional gym floor stuff (cardio machines, resistance machines and free weights) with athletic conditioning equipment in a lovely big space. There’s a scaffold, suspension training equipment, Olympic lifting, squat rack, kettlebells, battling ropes, punchbags and lots more.

I met Mike, my designated trainer, who asked me what I wanted to get out of the session. He already knew I was 14 weeks out from my figure comp (it’s taken me a couple of weeks to get this blog post up!) I’d told him I do plenty of heavy lifting but have little space or equipment with which to do really good conditioning sessions.

First of all, Mike led me through a warm-up focusing on mobility and dynamic stretching. He then revealed my circuit to me: five exercises focused on whole-body movement patterns (lunge, squat, pull, push and rotation)…and told me I’d go round five times. 45 seconds on, 15 off, and a bonus rest between sets. Eek!

Here’s what I did (with coach Mike’s explanations)

1) Lateral strap-shuttles
“Plyometric loading of the legs in a semi squat position whilst support the posture with the suspension straps, this exercise is great for heart rate training and really gets those legs full of blood”

2) Rope drives
“Using a 30kg heavy-duty rope, the aim is to get the whole body firing up in sequence with triple extension from ankle, knee and hips, an explosive power endurance exercise which will challenge the whole body”

3) Squat jump to hangs
“A favourite exercise of mine, great for separation and definition in the quads! Using a frame around 7ft high: stand directly under the frame in a squat position and explosively jump up and catch the pole above. Hold in an isometric position for 2 seconds. Let go and land softly in a full squat and simultaneously explode back up to the frame and repeat for the duration. A fierce explosive exercise!”

4) Get ups
“The aim of this exercise is simple: get on the floor from a standing position and – as quickly as possible – get up again. This usually involves a high tempo work rate including a squat, press up and lunge, and works both concentrically and eccentrically in all movements.

”

5) Endurance punch bag work
“Nothing gets the heart going like a little boxing. Using a 35kg hanging bag, I had Nicola punching high and hard for prolonged periods. This was challenging and got the heart rate up massively whilst keeping Nicola focused on the target throughout.” (I concur… 😉 )

My heart was pounding and I was completely knackered after that lot, but it was a clever circuit which fooled me into carrying on.. the 15 second rest period was just enough recovery for me to forget what the fuss was all about, and one or two of the exercises were just easier (not “easy”, just “easier”..!) enough to convince me I could make it through another round.

The exercises Mike chose for me got my heart rate up, worked my entire body and blasted me from all angles – lateral, explosive, triple extension and all that good stuff. I asked him to explain why he chose them:

This session was designed specifically for Nicola going into a HIIT training day. Although many people associate HIIT with treadmills/rowing machines, this session was purely based on body weight exercises challenging every muscle group by keeping the heart rate raised with short rest periods which in turn results in a fantastic HIIT training session. My aim was to work on an explosive basis, ensuring maximum force in every movement, this was evident with the load and explode squat jump and hangs.

Nicola was great to work with and really put in a fantastic effort throughout, already looking in great condition for her upcoming figure competitions. It was a pleasure to train Nicola and give her some guidance on training structures.

Without question Nicola got the HIIT workout she requested and also went away with some new ideas towards training.

Nicola, I hope you enjoyed the experience at Fresh and we look forward to seeing you again.

Mike was a fantastic coach, calling out words of encouragement all the way through and saying just the right thing to keep me going. One of my favourite was during the squat jumps/hangs: “Load up that squat and explode out of it…it will really get some separation going in those quads.” Yes please, sign me up!

Fresh is a great facility and well worth a visit if you’re in the area. As well as training in the indoor facilities, the team do a range of classes, outdoor sessions and are about to start dedicated triathlon training sessions at an open-water swimming lake. So, whatever your sport or fitness goal, do check them out if they’re in your patch.

Thank you Mike and the rest of the Fresh team, the session was great (and took me a while to recover from!) and it was a pleasure to see your facility.

You can follow Fresh and Mike on Twitter, and Fresh on Facebook.

Interval training at Fresh is a post from The Fit Writer blog.


Busy weekend (part 2: testing my strength goals)

March 23, 2011

Here’s part 2 of my busy weekend (part 1: the IFBB Grand Prix is here).

On the way back from the Grand Prix I picked up my figure coach/mentor and remote PT Kat who lives and works in London. We got home and pretty much headed straight to the gym – she was only staying for a day and we wanted to train twice.

Remember a couple of weeks ago I posted a few strength goals I wanted to try and meet (or exceed) before I start to cut for my show? We thought it was a good time to test those.

Here’s a recap of the goals:

Deadlift – 80kg for 8 reps
Squats – 85kgs for 10 reps
Pull-ups – 10 wide grip from dead hang
One-arm row – 25kg dumbbell for 8 reps
Dumbbell chest press – 25kg dumbbells for 8 reps
Single leg press – 115kgs for 12 reps both sides
Clean and press – 35kg for 8 reps

Here’s how I got on:
Deadlifts – busted my goal and did 3 sets of 85kgs

Squats – did the 85kgs and then Kat persuaded me to do a set at 90kg

Wide grip pull-ups – I didn’t manage anything like my goal – I can do sets of 10 but would be kidding myself if I said they were full pull-ups. I’ll get there!

One-arm row – I had to use the 26kg, as there are no 25kg dumbbells. Just about did one set of 10!

Dumbbell chest press – Nope – the 26s were just too much and there are no 25s, but I did do a set with the 24s which is more than I’ve ever done before. Great to have a spotter!

Single leg press – big fail on this one! I’d done legs a couple of days earlier (and the squats and deadlifts today) and just couldn’t push the plate

Clean and press – ha ha, no (Kat did say she thought my goal for this was a bit nuts!) I did do a set of military presses with 35kg.

After this, we went home, had a healthy dinner, a healthy pudding (I always have pudding) and watching posing routines on youtube all evening. [/geeks]

Next morning we were up and in the gym to do a big chest session. I never train with a partner or have a spotter so it was fantastic for me to be able to push myself with heavier weights knowing someone was there to catch them when I just couldn’t do any more (and it did happen!)

We both had a sample of pre-workout booster stuff I picked up at the expo the day before. It was powerful stuff, quite scary really, we were both jabbering like maniacs and ended up being in the gym for about 90 minutes without feeling fatigued. I crashed badly later on! Not sure I’ll be buying that particular pre-workout supplement!

I managed 22kg dumbbells for chest press, 20kgs for incline press and 18s for decline. Then we did a load of cable work and press ups (to failure, as demonstrated by me here!)

Kat’s form was better 😉

Phew. You’ll be glad to know that will be the end of photos of me in the gym for a while, since I’m normally there by myself!

I’m pleased I’ve already met some of my strength goals (and exceeded some), and now I’m going to work on meeting those last few – and improving my form on the others!

What are your fitness goals at the moment?

Busy weekend (part 2: testing my strength goals) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.


Conditioning training at Locker27

March 14, 2011

I mentioned last week that I’d been invited to train at Locker 27, an athletic facility in Weybridge, Surrey. It’s about time I told you about the session (and the facility). It’s a fantastic place to train and I only wish I could get over there more often. Two sessions a week at Locker 27 athletic development and I’d be in tip-top condition for my comp, I can tell you!

Locker 27 is what I’d call a proper “old school” training facility, although there’s nothing dated about it. On the contrary, the equipment is fantastic and the knowledge of the three coaches is bang up to date. But the Locker 27 guys have built the facility, and the training they offer there, around the solid foundations of real athletic conditioning. Everything they do is functional and aimed at increasing sporting performance. They focus on the basics: of technique, of programming and of progressive training. The training they do looks simple, but is tough. The Locker 27 guys know that if it ain’t broke, there’s no point trying to fix it, and so they underpin all their training sessions with all the good stuff – Olympic lifts, bodyweight movements, intervals, conditioning circuits.

Here’s the blurb from the website as written by its founder Matt Church:

At Locker 27 we provide the basis and foundation for athletes/sportspeople/fitness fanatics to achieve their goals and increase their performance. The pathway from physical competency to performance training is tailored to prepare the individual for the complicated, comprehensive, robust skill set required to reach their potential.

“The Locker” provides a very different training experience compared to a commercial gym. All components of sports conditioning are combined and can be applied to anyone who wishes to push the boundaries, whether for sport or for healthy living.

Locker 27 was born 31 years ago. It is a culmination of experience and lessons from the sporting world both positive and negative that have shaped the philosophy and services received at the “Locker”.

The name Locker 27 comes from my first ever locker at school. I have very fond memories of these early stages of my sporting development. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who ignited my passion for all aspects of sport and exercise. At Locker 27 we want to be part of that ignition process.

So, what about my session? I met with Steven Rudkin, a co-director of Locker 27 and asked him to put me through my paces. On my training programme for the day was interval training, and I was secretly hoping Steve would get me to do a variety of things I just can’t do in the limited space available to me at my local gym. I wasn’t disappointed!

Steve devises my session and writes it up so he can count my reps

After a fantastic warm-up which focused on mobility and glute activation (hurdle walks, band side-steps, crawls, lunges, medicine ball woodchops and ball slams, skipping, etc), Steve revealed my circuit...5 exercises, working for 45 seconds with 15 seconds rest, and a bonus 60 seconds rest between after the completion of the fifth exercise. I was to do the sequence 3 times. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? That’s what I thought…until he told me what the 5 exercises were:

1) “wall ball”: essentially a push/press, squatting down and then launching a 5kg medicine ball up against a wall in front of me, over and over again

2) sledge hammer: whacking a massive tyre with a sledge hammer over and over again as hard as I can

3) burpees jumping straight up into wide-grip chin ups (then down again into the burpee…and so on)

4) rope slam: continually ‘slamming’ a 2inch rope up and down for the 45 seconds
and

5) flipping a 44kg tyre across the room, running back to the start line after each flip

If that still doesn’t sound too bad, here is some video footage of me doing some of the exercises. I’m a bit embarrassed about these as 1) I didn’t know Steve was videoing and 2) they’re from the end of the session when I was tired – hence the complete inability to do any real chin ups (I’m just jumping up and lowering myself down by this stage).



I asked Steven to explain why he chose the five exercises for my circuit. He said: “These kind of athletic movements mimic the way we need to move during sport and help us build power in those big movements. Two things are often neglected in traditional gym-type training: triple extension (at the ankle, knee and hip) and the posterior chain. They’re both really important for athletic performance, no matter what your sport is. After all, every sport demands ground reaction forces from those three leg joints so we need to learn how to transfer power from the ground up and drive it through the legs and hips.”

After I’d recovered from this short but killer “raw conditioning” session, I asked Steve to assist me with just one set of dumbbell chest presses, because I never have anyone to help me during my own sessions, and I wanted to see if I could actually press more than normal if I had someone there to help me get the dumbbells up in the air. Sure enough, I was able to go up to 2x20kgs (I can usually only manage 2x18kgs because I can’t lift anything heavier to the start position!) I think I could have gone heavier but 20kg is the biggest dumbbell they have at present. Steve then checked my squat and deadlift form and said it was all good, which was great to hear.

I absolutely loved my session at Locker 27 and would like to thank Steve for inviting me and taking me through the session. If you are able to get to Weybridge to train, I strongly recommend you try the facility out.

Triathlon readers – you could try Locker 27’s dedicated Computrainer sessions (you can take your own bike) – at the moment, only Locker 27 and the triathlon centre in Manchester offer the sessions.

Conditioning training at Locker27 is a post from The Fit Writer blog.


Group PT and posing practise

March 6, 2011


Phew, yesterday was full on! My head is spinning, full of fantastic information after meeting up with my coach Kat Millar and a female bodybuilding competitor she knows. Annie Uelese was kind enough to invite me to her house, take a look at my physique, help me with posing and finally give me her thoughts on which show/s I have the potential to do best in. So I now have some dates in the diary! Countdown to showtime is officially on!

Let’s back up a bit.

I started my day (after a tortuous time on the tube network) at Kat’s personal training studio in Farringdon, where I gatecrashed one of her Saturday morning group personal training sessions. Anna, Angela and Jess, thank you so much for letting me join your group and train with you! I had great fun and worked really hard. I love the singleminded solitude of training by myself but from time to time it’s great to train with others, and yesterday was one of those days.

After warming up with medicine balls and kettlebells, we did a lot of partner work with medicine balls, some agility work as a group and even some fun “games” with press ups etc as forfeits, none of which would have worked by myself. I’ve been focusing on slower lifting work in the gym recently, so the series of bunny hops, fast step ups, jumps and running was a (good) shock to my system.

We finished off our hour’s sweatfest with partner-assisted stretching which was a real treat. Thank you, Angela, for the help with stretching (all 55kgs of you!) and for the mini back massage which you threw in for free!

Jess, Anna and Angela are all obviously working very hard with Kat and I wish them all the best with their individual strength, nutrition and fitness goals. Hopefully I’ll see you again soon, ladies! Train hard! XX

From there, Kat and I made our way to NW London to meet Annie Uelese, Kiwi figure competitor. You know how you always meet someone in every sport who is willing to give up their time, knowledge and experience to help out a stranger? Annie is one of those people. She filled my head with helpful information, suggestions and practical ideas and let me hang out at her house for hours asking her questions about bodybuilding and figure.

She took at a look at me and told me which class of bodybuilding/which federation she thought I was best suited to, explaining the subtle differences. She then took me through all the poses I’d need to do, tweaking my technique and manipulating me into the right position. Posing is really hard work and very precise, and Annie’s help was incredibly useful (even if I am aching today – yes, from posing!)

So, I now have a couple of shows earmarked, dates in the diary and – of course – a countdown! That’s what I’ve been missing and needing, and I know the weekly countdown is going to give my training and nutrition an even sharper focus.

Here they are:
– 3 July
BNBF show (figure class)
17 July NPA show (figure, possibly physique class)

and, as plan Bs (just in case):
– 7 August BNBF show
– 15 August NPA show
– 12 Sept NPA show (I may do this one anyway, as it’s in Kent – my homeland!)

So, that gives me 16 weeks to keep on building size and symmetry before cutting down to reveal all my hard work! Oh, and to practise posing, develop some stage presence, and…and…and…

Thank you so much to Annie for your generosity, time and insights. And thank you as ever to Kat – great to train with you and the ladies at your group PT session in London. May the groups go from strength to strength, it’s a brilliant way to train!

Do you have a mentor in your sport? Do you do group personal training?

Group PT and posing practise is a post from The Fit Writer blog.


How to get the most from remote personal training

January 15, 2011

Have you ever considered working with a Personal Trainer or sport-specific coach in an online or email capacity? Perhaps with the New Year upon us, and the start of the race season a few months away, you’re looking for some accountability, structure and expert guidance. A professional trainer or coach is a fantastic investment, but sometimes there’s no-one local who quite does it for you.

That’s where a “remote” coach or PT comes in. By that I mean someone who offers coaching, training plans, perhaps nutrition guidance and emotional support, but by email (and usually telephone and Skype, too).

I worked with a remote PT at the end of last year during my 8-week gym challenge. Kat offers regular one-on-one PT and small group PT. I knew of her from reading her blog, and had a hunch that she’d be the perfect PT for me, but I don’t live in London, so I had to work with her over email.

I found the process to be very helpful. So helpful, in fact, that Kat and I are now firm friends as well as PT/client. Here’s a pic of us having, like, the most fun eva,….cooking veg last weekend on Saturday night. It’s a good illustration of how important it is to find a PT who has the same sense of humour and outlook as you!

When we weren’t cooking, talking or training, I interviewed her about remote/email PT and how she feels a client can get the most out of this kind of training.

Whether you’ve just signed up to work with an online coach or are considering it for the future, I hope you’ll find this Q&A helpful.

The Fit Writer: In what circumstances might a client find remote personal training useful?
Kat Millar: If someone can’t find the type of coach or PT they need in their local area, or at their regular gym, they can work with anyone they want. They don’t even need to be in the same country. Remote PT offers great value for money, too. The instantaneous support is really helpful: a client can be sitting at work, feeling tempted by the biscuit barrel, and quickly fire off an email or a text to me and I’ll reply with a few motivating words. Just having that accountability helps. Clients know they have someone’s eyes on what they’re doing. Most people have to be in some system of accountability to have success with fitness or fat loss goals, and a remote PT offers just that.

TFW: Are some clients better suited to remote coaching than others?
KM: Well, it helps to have the ability and willingness to be completely honest with their PT. It has to be real; there’s no point just telling me the good bits or the things they think I want to hear. Clients shouldn’t feel bad about reporting less-than-perfect meals or training sessions. If they tell me everything – good and bad – we can see why they’re getting the results (or not) and take it from there. Honesty is key.

TFW: How can clients help the remote PT process work for them?
KM: It helps if they come to me with a really specific goal. And then, even though they’ve asked me to help, they have to take a lot of responsibility for the process. They need to be honest with me and with themselves and stay “on it” between our calls and emails. I like clients to ask me really direct, specific questions and encourage them to do so. Tell me clearly what they’ve done or not done, give me feedback on the training and nutrition plans I put together for them, and use me for the resource I am! No client should battle on in silence if something about the process isn’t working. Tell me and I can fix it. All personal trainers want to give their clients what they need to succeed. Oh, and progress photos are great!

TFW: What’s good about working this way?
KM: I like the fact that working on email with someone enables me to react to things as they come up. I can offer support, answer questions and give motivation whenever it’s needed, rather than waiting for an alloted hour every week. Very often, email clients end up telling me a lot about their lives and personal challenges, so the relationship becomes very special and we have heart-to-heart chats. The bottom line is that, by working with an coach via email, clients don’t have to take some random training plan off the internet or out of a magazine. They’ll get a personalised plan. Working this way with someone often gets them to use a PT when otherwise they wouldn’t have considered it. And I think everyone should have access to professional support and guidance when it comes to their health and fitness.

Thanks Kat! 🙂

Email personal training definitely works for me. Do you have a “remote” coach, PT or mentor? Does the process work for you?

How to get the most from your remote personal training is a post from The Fit Writer blog.


The Fit Writer’s pick of 2010

December 31, 2010


Me and Richard of Richard’s Transrockies 2011 blogging amidst the New Year beer…and wine….and Bailey’s…and whatever else you can spot there in the background 😉

How was your 2010? I’m not hugely into resolutions (I prefer to make them as I go along, regardless of the date) but, as it’s the final day of the year, I wanted to look back at 2010 and pick out some highlights for you. A kind of a New Year’s Honours list, if you will. Without the royalty.

So here are The Fit Writer’s picks of the year gone by:

Favourite commission
Ooh, well. Most of my commissions are favourites (how’s that for diplomacy?), because I just love writing. But some stand out for being a little more unusual. How about a week in Croyde in August, training with the RNLI Beach Lifeguards to get a taste of what their qualifications consist of? (Hint: really hard work) That was for an article which appeared in Coast magazine. I also thoroughly enjoyed meeting, swimming with and getting some swimming advice from Liam Tancock later in the year. Judging by the search terms which lead to this blog, it would seem that many of you would like to do the same! You can find Liam on Twitter and he’s a jolly good sort of chap. Did I tell you that I tweeted I was on the way to meet him, and someone who follows me on Twitter said how much of a fan his daughter was. I told Liam, who was happy to pose for a photo for the guy’s daughter, and then said hello to her on Twitter. Nice guy 🙂

Favourite race
Another tough one. I really enjoyed getting into road cycling this year, completing several sportives having never done one before. But I think the Favourite Race gong has to go to the Folkestone Half Marathon: it’s in my home town, I was cheered on by my new nephew and I got a PB. What’s not to like?

Favourite event
Speaking of new nephews, event of 2010 has to go to the birth of my nephew Henry. Nothing to do with sport, I realise (although, a few weeks later when I was struggling through the Little Woody half Ironman triathlon, I did draw on the strength I’d seen my sister demonstrate during labour!) Nephews rock, particularly mine.

Favourite bit of fitness kit
Although I’ve been asked to review lots of lovely bits of kit and gadgetry this year, the award for favourite bit of fitness kit has to go to my kettlebells. You saw me using them during my 10,000 swing kettlebell challenge, and I use them regularly for both strength and CV work. So handy!

Favourite training session
I’m a bit of a hermit. So it takes someone fun to persuade me to give up training solo for once. And when I end up crying with laughter, I know I’ve found a good training partner. So props to Kat Millar, PT and now a good friend, with whom I trained a month or so ago. Second place goes to one of the many beautiful road bike rides I did back when it was burning hot and sunny: just lovely.

Favourite sporting moment
I watched as much of the Commonwealths as I could, and cheered as loud as any of you when Rebecca Adlington won both the 400m and 800m freestyle. Whadda woman!

Well, that’s it. I can’t bear this super-slow internet connection any longer! I will bid you a very happy New Year’s Eve, a great evening and a fantastic start to 2011 – and I’ll see you on the other side. Thanks for reading!

The Fit Writer’s Pick of 2010 is a post from The Fit Writer blog.


Away for New Year? Keep training!

December 30, 2010

Every year, we go away with a group of friends to a big old house somewhere for New Year week. In many ways, it’s a bigger deal than Christmas (there’s certainly more food and drink!) In the face of all the beer, wine, port (and cheese), nibbles and massive portions of dinner, you could be forgiven for thinking we might give up on exercise altogether for the week. Not us!

Amongst our party, we have two mountain bikers, one runner-turned-mountain biker and one Personal Trainer. Oh, and me. So I thought it might be useful to show you how we keep a balance (a kind of “detox/retox”, if you will) and keep training whilst we’re away from our respective gyms and out of our routine.

1: Bring bikes, running kit and other outdoorsy stuff

Even if all you want to do is go on long walks with the dogs, make the most of the fact that you’re somewhere different. We always end up somewhere pretty remote and very beautiful, and running/cycling/walking is a pleasure. So it would be a shame to find yourself with no kit. Pack the running shoes!

2: Pack indoors exercise kit

I brought my kettlebells, Personal Trainer friend Jo brought her Z-Trainer (a suspension trainer – review to come soon) and more kettlebells, and Gliders. I put a few exercise DVDs in my bag I’d been asked to review. It’s all stuff we’d rarely use at home, but being away from the gym and running a totally different routine is the perfect time to experiment with other bits of kit. And, of course, having a Personal Trainer on hand is too good an opportunity to pass up!

3: Plan your exercise

I know, this sounds terribly dull. After all, we’re away for the week with friends and meant to be enjoying ourselves. But our group of friends do enjoy training, so it’s no hardship. We have all day to do whatever we want whilst we’re here, so 30 minutes here and there making up a new routine with kettlebells is all part of the fun. The rules are there are no rules, just the opportunity to train if you want. Two of our party don’t exercise and really aren’t interested. That’s OK, we still love them 😉 Every day, one or more of us will be heading out for a run or a bike ride, or heading to one of the larger rooms to do some indoor training. Anyone can join in, but no-one has to. It works for us! (And it makes that first beer of the evening taste all the better….)

My friend Jo (one of the group I’m away with for New Year) is a Personal Trainer. Here’s her advice on training whilst you’re away from home (she’s the PT):

“Keep it simple: you really don’t need a lot of time, space or kit to stick to an exercise routine whilst you’re away. Don’t forget that you carry the best bit of gym with you all the time – your body! Put together a routine of simple, compound bodyweight exercises (any kind of full or modified squats, lunges, press ups, planks, triceps dips, step ups) and work hard – job done!

“Write down what you want to do every day so you have a plan to stick to which can become part of your day. That way you’re less likely to find that the day has flown past without you getting your exercise session in.

“If you’re training for something, don’t panic that you might not be able to get your regular training session done. You won’t lose any fitness or strength in just one week. It’s far better to do something than nothing at all, however short and however different to your normal training it might be.”

I’ll do reviews of the various bits of kit and DVDs we do whilst we’re away this week.

Oh, and a note to all the burglars reading: yes, we’re away from home but neighbours are keeping an eye on the house and popping in from time to time! 😉

Away for New Year? Keep Training! is a post from The Fit Writer blog


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